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Proposed ‘Official Language’ Initiative Ruled Invalid

November 20, 1985

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) _ An initiative declaring English the official language in this city, where 40 percent of the residents are Asian, has failed to qualify for the ballot because it was improperly worded.

City Attorney Richard Morillo said Tuesday that the measure will not be placed on the April municipal election ballot because it states the reason for adopting the ordinance but does not contain the wording of the ordinance itself.

″There’s nothing there,″ Morillo said. ″We can’t guess at what it’s supposed to say.″

Frank J. Arcuri, the man behind the initiative in this Los Angeles suburb, said he was concerned over the use of Chinese characters in business signs. He said he wanted to encourage immigrants, whose numbers have burgeoned in recent years, to learn English.

Arcuri accused the city attorney of ″twisting the initiative″ to find an excuse for keeping it off the ballot.

The full text is embodied in the petition statement that the measure is ″for the purpose of adopting a city ordinance to establish English as the official language of Monterey Park,″ Arcuri said.

Initiative opponents claim that declaring English the official language would insult immigrants, infringe on free speech and encourage racism.

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